Accessibility News - Summary for the Week of May 5th, 2017 May 04, 2017
Welcome to May and yet another weekly dose of accessibility news. There have been some great digital accessibility advancements that we get to talk about this week. We’ll cover how a major retailer is leading the charge to make digital accessibility the norm. We will also point you to some tips you need to read if you work for a financial institution that has a website. Finally, we’ll check in with Northwestern and see their innovative approach to ensuring online course accessibility. Here it is, your weekly news wrap-up!
ALDO Makes a Big Impact
If you are a fan of shoes, you have probably heard of ALDO. The brand has taken a big step forward in the digital accessibility community this week by announcing its new online strategy. The reason this is so exciting is that one of their main action items is to increase their brand’s digital accessibility in order to make their online presence more robust. According to a Multi-Channel Merchant article, the company is very aware of how important these updates are to their user base, “’We are committed to designing a universal digital experience: accessible, responsive, social, human-centered, and most of all, easy to evolve and scale,’ said Grégoire Baret, GM of Experience Design.”
While it might seem intuitive for a brand to build its website in a way that makes it easy for everyone to use, that is not always the case. Many online retailers tend to forget that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t helpful to most people. Every online shopper has unique needs and certain modifications can drastically improve their shopping experience. Our blog even covered this topic a few months ago (you can read the post here) explaining how much money retailers stand to lose when their websites are not accessible. It is great to see such a big brand publicly making WCAG 2.0 compliance not just a goal but a concrete action item. Hopefully, other retailers both large and small will take note and begin improving their website accessibility as well.
Tips Financial Institutions Need to Know
This is less of a news story, but it’s an important resource for financial institutions so I thought it should be included in this week’s roundup. As many website owners have found, adhering to certain accessibility guidelines can be tough because there are aspects of them that tend to be vague or difficult to find a concrete benchmark for success. As the Financial Brand states, “This murky environment has left many financial institutions, banking providers and their website developers wondering not only how to provide digital banking access to everyone — regardless of disability — but how to effectively meet the potential ADA and website accessibility guidelines along the way.” Creating accessible online banking is important to financial institutions to better serve their customer bases and provide the highest-quality online experience. However, getting that accessibility recipe correct can be tough. If they don’t, there could be penalties such as lawsuits waiting down the road. The Financial Brand broke down 5 important tips to consider when developing your accessible online banking strategy. Review their suggestions and start getting ready to make updates! Accessible online banking is a hugely important thing for people across the world, and financial institutions are responsible for making the necessary updates.
A New Accessibility Checking App for Northwestern Courses
In a roundup of the apps that Northwestern will be presenting at the upcoming TEACHx conference, one, in particular, caught my attention. We spend a lot of time on this blog discussing the need for inclusive tech in schools and trying to find ways to make learning more accessible to all students. The Universal Design Online content Inspection Tool (awesomely shortened to the easy to remember acronym UDOIT) is here to help! The goal of the app is to improve the accessibility of online course content because it, “enables faculty to identify accessibility issues with a Canvas course and provides related resources to help address them.” 
While it appears that the app will only evaluate the accessibility of Northwestern courses, the broader applications could be huge. As online courses become more popular, students will need ways to access the content easily and without barriers. Innovations like the UDOIT app will help to create a clear pathway for everyone to learn. Apps of this type will also help keep students who need modifications from constantly having to request them. Instead, the necessary content and information will be there from the beginning, creating a more seamless learning experience.
Learn more about the UDOIT app by visiting its app page here.
It’s nice to be able to cover such positive advancements this week. As more big name universities and retailers begin to make accessibility the norm, I hope to see more innovation in this space. Creating accessibility checking apps and giving students a course that already meets their needs is especially inspiring. With all of the accessibility barriers that tend to exist, it is nice to hear people taking a proactive approach to tackling the problem head-on.
What stories inspired you this week? Was there any news update you think we should cover next week? Add your thoughts in the comments below, we love to hear from you!